How far is your Protein Bar?
A vegan’s take on PROTEIN!
Where do you get your protein from? As a vegetarian or vegan, one is asked this question throughout their social existence, which is why many health conscious eaters have to spend hours educating themselves, short of a diploma in nutrition!
In today’s age, it might seem that protein has hired itself, the best PR team in town, and it’s getting places. Let’s clarify some of the basic figures related between protein and our body. Though it is a vital part of our nutrient make-up, it is best placed as a side to heavy weights like carbohydrates. Mainstream nutritional experts propagate at least 10%-35% of your daily calories from proteins depending on your gender, activity level and type etc. However, more recently, some new thinkers like Dr. Douglas Graham are suggesting that we truly only need 3%-6% of our daily calories from protein. Whatever might end up being the truth, we plant munching people have got it covered.
Ayurveda promotes simple beans and lentils as an important source of proteins, complex carbohydrates, fiber and vitamins.
Mung Dal would have to be my personal favorite as it is easiest to digest compared to other beans and lentils, and is highly nutritious. Lentils are versatile and provide a satiating source of nutrition that works well with other vegetables, spices and herbs, making it a complete protein. Most beans and lentils, require soaking (mung dal doesn’t have to) for more efficient cooking and digestion. They can be used in salads, dips, sandwiches, stews, soups, sides or as an entrée. Black beans are also exceptionally high in protein boosting 21 grams per 1/2 cup uncooked beans!
Seasonal, organic, local, sun ripened foods are the ideal and we can all aim for it whenever possible. They have the highest amount of prana i.e life force and our bodies digestion works best when fed seasonal produce that hasn’t been baptized with chemicals.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, peas, edamame, whole grains are some of the readily available vegetarian power houses of protein. Nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans alongside seeds like pumpkin, chia and sesame, also grant substantial level of proteins and are easily available in grocery and health stores. Hemp seeds have become my favorite topping, I sprinkle them on sandwiches, salads, and wraps, and they have a subtle nutty flavor that is ideal for pesto sauce too!
Though fruit isn’t heralded as a beacon of protein, you might be surprised to know they are many which are worth adding to your diet along with other richer forms of plant based proteins. On top of the list are dried fruits like dried apricots, raisins, dates and prunes. Fresh fruits like guava, avocado, banana, raspberries, peaches, and grapefruit are worthy contenders too, as they are vitamin rich, hydrating and overall pioneers of good health!
The key to getting enough of any macro nutrient is simply eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whist practicing balance. Our body works in unison and interdependency with itself and its environment, creating a dynamic field of exchange and regeneration. A well woven string of awareness and care between our individual nutritional needs, emotional needs, psychological needs, social and spiritual needs, are all variables in the optimal functioning of our bodies and feelings of well being.
In conclusion, though in many ways redundant but true, rather than focusing on individual macro profiles like eating lentils for proteins, grains for carbohydrates or fruit for vitamins, cultivating an overall healthy diet and lifestyle will involuntarily nestle us in good health.